Does the thought of going to counseling sound frightening to you or your partner? If the answer is yes, maybe that’s because we associate therapy with relationships that are in serious trouble.
But couples therapists say that getting counseling can be helpful at nearly any stage of a marriage or serious relationship – even when you feel generally happy with one another.
Janae Munday, an experienced therapist working with married couples and others in Phoenix, Arizona, says it’s wise to examine potential issues before they get out of hand.
The benefit of seeing a couple’s counselor is that you will both learn to communicate better – a skill that pays dividends no matter what. It’s helpful whether you’re choosing a restaurant to enjoy this weekend or working on something a lot bigger – like a sticky situation with the kids or your in-laws.
Here are 6 situations where the help of an experienced couples therapist will be crucial to your relationship’s health over the long term.
1. You come from very different backgrounds.
Many of us fall in love with people who come from families, hometowns or even countries as different from our own as night and day. Whether you’re a trust-fund baby married to a blue-collar guy, a PhD dating a community college graduate or a neat freak living with a lovable slob, you probably have a few issues to work out!
Relationships are hard enough without adding anything extra. Learning how to negotiate for what you want and need in a respectful compassionate manner will help you lay the foundation for a strong partnership. A trained therapist can guide you through this give-and-take process, ensuring that both of you feel valued and heard.
2. Your sex life isn’t great anymore.
Even in a time when suburban moms are reading 50 Shades of Gray, many couples aren’t comfortable talking about sex. A good therapist helps them feel comfortable and enables them to describe what’s happening – or not happening – in the bedroom. The therapist can normalize the issues and give some medical context, so no one feels blamed or embarrassed. Issues that may be blocking intimacy, such as buried resentments, can come out onto the table where they can be dealt with honestly.
3. Someone cheated or lied.
Dealing with infidelity can be one of the hardest challenges for committed couples. Other forms of betrayal, such as hiding a major business decision from your spouse, can be nearly as destructive.
Affairs and other big lies don’t happen in a vacuum. Seeing a skilled couples therapist can bring a sense of hope and stability while you explore the underlying issues. Often, the goal is to decide whether to repair the relationship or end it. A counselor can guide you through the process, helping to reduce tension and conflict while you explore the options open to you.
4. You disagree about money.
It can be tough managing your own money even when you’re single. Add someone else’s budget, debt or financial hang-ups and you’ve got grounds for an ongoing fight. Each of us deals with money differently, and there can be considerable emotion in the mix. Having the help of a professional counselor can keep things rational and clear between you as you lay out a plan for spending, saving, investing and other related issues.
5. You’re heading for a big milestone.
Generally, couples wait until they’re in a crisis to consider counseling. But anticipating problems that can arise from moving in together, relocating to a new part of the country or even getting married can save you a lot of heartache. Going to a counselor at this point will help you identify the difficulties that often come from “happy stress” from events such as an impending marriage. This way, you can have a sound strategy for dealing with bumps in the road when you encounter them.
6. You are thinking of splitting up.
Couples therapy isn’t always about saving your relationship. Sometimes it’s about figuring out how to go your separate ways on good terms. This is especially important if you have children together. A couples counselor can help you and your partner figure out if breaking up is really the best solution – or if your relationship can be restored with hard work and determination. If you decide to call it quits, your therapist can help you discuss the details such as who gets what and how custody will be shared if there are kids or pets involved.
JANAE CAN HELP YOU START TALKING AGAIN
If you just can’t find the words to open a productive conversation with your loved one, Janae Munday can help.
A skilled, experienced provider of couples therapy in the Phoenix area, Janae has enabled hundreds of men and women see the larger patterns inside their relationships. She can guide you and your partner through the steps necessary to navigate even the toughest of times. Call Janae for a confidential appointment today.